Exodus 13:21 NIV “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or by night “
Numbers 33:1-49 NIV “Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. At the LORD’s command Moses recorded the stages in their journey. This is their journey by stages: The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out boldly in full view of all the Egyptians, who were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had struck down among them; for the LORD had brought judgment on their gods. The Israelites left Rameses and camped at Succoth. They left Succoth and camped at Etham, on the edge of the desert. They left Etham, turned back to Pi Hahiroth, to the east of Baal Zephon, and camped near Migdol. They left Pi Hahiroth and passed through the sea into the desert, and when they had traveled for three days in the Desert of Etham, they camped at Marah. They left Marah and went to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there.
“They left Elim and camped by the Red Sea. They left the Red Sea and camped in the Desert of Sin. They left the Desert of Sin and camped at Dophkah. They left Dophkah and camped at Alush. They left Alush and camped at Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink. They left Rephidim and camped in the Desert of Sinai.
“They left the Desert of Sinai and camped at Kibroth Hattaavah. They left Kibroth Hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth. They left Hazeroth and camped at Rithmah. They left Rithmah and camped at Rimmon Perez. They left Rimmon Perez and camped at Libnah. They left Libnah and camped at Rissah. They left Rissah and camped at Kehelathah. They left Kehelathah and camped at Mount Shepher. They left Mount Shepher and camped at Haradah. They left Haradah and camped at Makheloth. They left Makheloth and camped at Tahath. They left Tahath and camped at Terah. They left Terah and camped at Mithcah. They left Mithcah and camped at Hashmonah. They left Hashmonah and camped at Moseroth. They left Moseroth and camped at Bene Jaakan. They left Bene Jaakan and camped at Hor Haggidgad. They left Hor Haggidgad and camped at Jotbathah. They left Jotbathah and camped at Abronah. They left Abronah and camped at Ezion Geber. They left Ezion Geber and camped at Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin. They left Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, on the border of Edom.
“At the LORD’s command Aaron the priest went up Mount Hor, where he died on the first day of the fifth month of the fortieth year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. Aaron was a hundred and twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor. The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev of Canaan, heard that the Israelites were coming.
“They left Mount Hor and camped at Zalmonah. They left Zalmonah and camped at Punon. They left Punon and camped at Oboth. They left Oboth and camped at Iye Abarim, on the border of Moab. They left Iyim and camped at Dibon Gad. They left Dibon Gad and camped at Almon Diblathaim. They left Almon Diblathaim and camped in the mountains of Abarim, near Nebo. They left the mountains of Abarim and camped on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho.
“There on the plains of Moab they camped along the Jordan from Beth Jeshimoth to Abel Shittim.”
The reality is, most of you did not read all those names in Numbers 33. Frankly, I didn’t either.
And truth be told, most of the believers in the world from the time the book of Numbers was written have sort of glossed over those verses. I don’t remember a single sermon on that chapter. Nor any gripping praise choruses about Hor Haggidgad. Nor a best selling book. No line of cool Christian tee shirts promoting the groupies of Bene Jaakan.
But God recorded all those names because they mattered to Him.
I have a theory.
On the one hand, you would not want to have several million people camping in one spot for too long. Certain environmental problems develop. So it makes sense that they moved around.
Also, even though there were 38 years of time to process while waiting for the changing of the guard, there did need to be some vague progression toward the land of Canaan.
But I wonder a lot about the presence of the Shekinah Glory on the land. God specified where the Tabernacle would be set up each night and where the Ark of the Covenant would be placed, so His glory could rest on it.
What happened to that land? Surely the Ark and the Glory could not sit on that land for an hour or a week without there being some dramatic positive impact on the land. If we had a map of each spot of holy ground in the Sinai peninsula after Israel went across the Jordan, I am sure we would have seen a remarkable pattern of hot spots matching the presence of the Ark.
What happened as a result of the holiness? Did vegetation grow differently? Were wild animals attracted to the holy ground or did they stay away? How deep into the core of the earth did the holiness go? Were underground aquifers sanctified?
Now here is the real one.
What would that map have looked like BEFORE the Israelites’ 40 years there?
Obviously no hot spots of holiness, but what about unholiness? If our fictitious map showed every defiled spot in the desert before they came, would it be exactly the same as the map showing all the holy spots after they left?
I don’t know. But I wonder. It just seems so God-like that while they were marching hither and yon, God was busy being strategic with something they had no clue about – cleansing land. What if every place they went on that complex journey had an ulterior motive of cleansing a piece of defiled land?
I find it quite an interesting possibility.
But so what?
What does that look like on my Monday morning, and yours?
Well, I have been noticing a lot of “random” activity in my business and others I track with. God does not seem to be blessing the core of the business. He does seem to be blessing ancillary components of the businesses.
Money flows. Bills are paid. Life goes on. But it is a bit strange watching where the grace isn’t flowing and where it is. There is not much logical business explanation for that.
My THEORY as of this afternoon is that this is probably not random at all, but is part of God strategically leading those who are willing to be led into places, situations and relationships where they can accomplish things they did not plan to accomplish – for Him.
I doubt Israel was intently focused on sanctifying all the defiled portals in the wilderness while they were slinging mud in the brickyard.
Similarly, I suspect God is quite concerned about a bunch of things that I am utterly unemotional about.
But IF I give Him permission to guide me in round about ways, through unexplained pathways, to strange disconnected encounters, He might be giving me the desire of my heart which is to be hugely transformational – beyond what I know.
So that is my prayer for this week. The cloud and the pillar of fire are not quite as obvious to me as they were to Moses & Co. Pray I will be able to lighten up on my To Do List, my Best Practices 101, my Metrics for SLG (printed and posted on the wall by my desk, so I can always look at it while I am on the phone with you and you are asking for my time), my passion for being transformational with people, my obsession with keeping the e-mail inbox down to a low roar, and all those other perfectly acceptable soulish foci.
Pray I will follow the light of God and go where He wants me to go, even if the pathway looks like a pretzel that was assembled in the middle of a tornado. That way I WILL make progress toward His promises to me, as well as accomplishing some marvelous things along the way that I know nothing about.
If you can’t find me when you get to heaven, look in the archives. There are a whole lot of stories I want to read the other half of.
Copyright June 2014 by Arthur Burk
From the Hub